I wrote a month ago how pleased I was with Parallels 8. It is a massive improvement over its historic competitors that allowed me for the first time to enjoy TheFormTool while using my MacBook PRO.
Now there’s an even better alternative. CrossOver by Codeweavers sets a new standard as an elegant and efficient way to bring TheFormTool to a Mac.
CrossOver beats Parallels, Boot Camp, and VMware by not being what they are. The historic big three host a virtual Windows OS within Mac OS X. CrossOver on the other hand is simply a program that enables some, but not all, Windows programs to operate in OS X. It’s the difference between night and day on the one hand, and turning on or off an electric light. The first is an enormous task, changing an entire environment; the second is much simpler.
Parallels 8 is stable, powerful and all-inclusive. It allows the user to install a full-featured Windows OS, within which one can install pretty much any Windows program. The two operating systems then operate in parallel, separate but equal, strangers living under the same roof, with their own rules, storage and communication needs, security and memory requirements. Parallels will “get by” with two gig of RAM, but really prefers four; on my machine it also set aside 18 gigs of disk space for virtual memory. When operating it sucks up CPU capacity and its memory leak is impressive, gobbling up my machine’s entire RAM in just a couple of hours.
CrossOver, on the other hand, installs just like any other Mac program. It weighs in at under 200 meg and imposes only a modest load on the CPU. It’s memory requirements and leakage are nominal, similar to any of the other programs running at the same time.
Rather than allowing for installation of a Windows environment, CrossOver creates a software shell, they call it a “bottle,” in which Word 2007 or Word 2010 for Windows can function, where all of Word’s features and functions work just as they would on a Windows machine. The difference is that it’s doing so within a Mac window on a Mac desktop in a Mac OS.
There are major advantages for people like myself who need only a limited number of Windows programs:
CrossOver doesn’t need (or provide or allow) Windows communications tools; it uses the Mac’s own systems for Internet connectivity, emails, printing and storage. I find this safety feature an incredible advantage.
There is no Windows system to catch a social disease; no need for Windows security. All the Mac commands and capabilities are nearly seamlessly available. One can choose whether to save documents within the Windows-type structure CrossOver creates within the bottle, or put them directly into the Mac HFS.
With CrossOver, there’s no need to purchase a copy of Windows; just CrossOver and the specific software you wish to run, in my case Word 2007 and Word 2010, which operate completely separately in independent bottles.
There’s no dividing line separating two completely different operating systems to navigate when moving files between programs.
Because users don’t need to buy Windows or its essential protective software, CrossOver’s cost to purchase and operate is substantially less than the alternatives.
Using Mission Control, I’ve set up a “Word for Windows” desktop that allows me to switch back and forth between typical Mac uses and Word for Windows in less than half a second.
In six weeks of very intense usage, there have been no difficulties. In fact, I had enough confidence in TheFormTool operating in CrossOver to use it as the main demonstration tool in our recent webinar for TFT’s power users.
Installation is not as simple as I’d wish, but on our second machine it took less than 15 minutes.
Here are the specific steps to take, starting with going to CrossOver’s specific page for TheFormTool at http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/name/?app_id=10978
See UPDATES, below!
Note: Some of these installation downloads seem to work much better with Firefox (which I’m not using for the moment while they work through its Java issues), than with either Chrome or Safari.
#1 Install CrossOver (at this point, only version 11.3! See below for a source.)
#2 Install Word from a CD
#3 Install VBA Runtime 6 (CrossOver>Configure>Install Software>Runtime Support Components>Microsoft Visual Basic 6 Service Pack) in the Word Bottle you’ve just created)
#4 Install TieFile for TheFormTool. Go here http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/name/?app_id=10978 to get TheFormTool Tie File by clicking the green button.
The whole process should take less than 15 minutes.
We put up with two screen warnings every time we launch from scratch.
In addition, we see a display of Word’s hidden code for underscores (#38), none of which cause us any issues.If you can live with these, you should be fine.
Codeweavers is working through those issues. When they’re solved we’ll be recommending CrossOver to any Mac user who would like to use TheFormTool right now. If you’d like a head start, feel free. I think you’ll like it… a lot. CrossOver is in use by 600,000 worldwide.
Codeweavers allocates support based on votes from its paid users. When you’re all done, please remember to vote for TheFormTool so that it can move off the Bronze badge. You can vote at http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/name/?app_id=10978;details=1.
Your vote will help assure continued product improvement, which will help us all.
You can test the setup at low or no cost by downloading a trial version of CrossOver, installing Word 2007 or 2010, and installing the free version of TheFormTool.
You can see this arrangement actually running on our video, “The Power and Economics of an Intelligent Document.” The demo starts at about 7:30.
UPDATE: Sadly, CrossOver v12.0 will not yet support TheFormTool. While Codeweavers works to correct their program, users of TheFormTool who wish to plug ahead can use CrossOver v11.3, which works as described above. You can download a copy of CrossOver v11.3, here http://theformtool.com/provision/crossover-11.3.0.zip.
UPDATE #2: With suggestions from Jane Merrill, I’ve expanded the steps necessary for installation and added screenshots of the various stages.
UPDATE #3: Several of the comments, below, add much comfort to the process. I encourage you to read them carefully before attempting a CrossOver installation.